Homeopathy Re Examined - Beyond the Classical Paradigm
by Rudi Verspoor and Steven Decker
Review by Peter Morrell
This is a large format and detailed text [400 pages] and it seems bound to be one that will be studied in detail as a feature of future teaching in the colleges. It is big in both its content and its scope; challenging, informative and probably revolutionary in many respects. It gives a detailed analysis and investigation of Hahnemann's basic ideas and techniques as taken from his Organon and Chronic Diseases with additional examples of cases and quotes from many great homeopaths of the past. At the outset, the reader is also given a grand tour of some of the ideas of thinkers like Goethe, Steiner, Proust, Heidegger, Kant, Kuhn, Galileo, Copernicus, Coleridge, Newton and Oliver Sacks.
The author presents some gems from the Organon, but his main purpose is to question 'classical homeopathy' in North America today. He portrays it as a flawed line of descent, which must be radically reexamined. He uses a new translation of the Organon by Steven Decker [The Extended Organon], as his map and compass in this appraisal. This text therefore forms a substantial critique of classicalism and the author seeks to debunk what Hahnemann really said and did. He claims that bad translations of Hahnemann's works have caused a confused version of homeopathy to be propagated in the Americas. Moreover, this version of homeopathy gave a considerably distorted portrayal of what he calls 'Hahnemann's genius'. His critique of Kent pinpoints his apparent failure to grasp Hahnemann's basic concept of disease causation.
More than 90% of the book's content considers the central themes of homeopathic philosophy and techniques, while about 30 pages at the end consider the work of Kent, Close and Roberts. A summary presenting their views may not be sufficiently penetrating or critical for some homeopaths. For example, there is scant comment upon Kent's famous Swedenborgian aphorisms or his patronising moral judgements about Psora. There may be an overwhelmingly north American feel to the text, yet, many references are also made to European and Indian homeopaths. And the conclusions seem critically important to all homeopaths.
The printed version of the book lacks a bibliography and index, which would be would have added a great deal of clarity to anyone trying to find references and themes quickly. Numerous references to important texts and articles are scattered throughout this text or placed in footnotes, and there unfortunately they shall remain, obscured from view, except to the most persistent readers.
One of the greatest strengths of the book is that it makes very skilful use of numerous quotations from the Organon and the Chronic Diseases, to illustrate points being made. The book should be studied alongside the Organon, such as Decker's [available in electronic format from Mr. Decker], and the other texts referred to throughout. He provides numerous insights into the meaning of Hahnemann's text, complete with many of the original German terms he used. Verspoor shows how many key terms can be used critically to illuminate our understanding of Hahnemann's real thoughts on many abstruse matters.
The grand theme the book discusses makes it important and useful to all homeopaths. For example, the author describes his own path through homeopathy. The work is based in part upon his own reading of the 'sequential approach' of Jean Elmiger's La Medecine Retrouvee, and his numerous discussions with Steven Decker. The text is easily accessible to most readers, being lucid, intelligent and clearly written. It makes the central ideas accessible to all for the first time.
This text could soon establish itself as a respected guidebook to the Organon, and probably the best guides to the fundamental principles of homeopathy. It is also modern and written with superb clarity. The writer's enthusiasm for his subject shines throughout the text and carries the reader along skillfully and comfortably at every stage. The book has an interesting layout, being dissected into themes and sub-themes all the way through. This has the advantage that one can see where one is located in relation to the whole picture. One can also delve into it at virtually any page without suffering any sense of textual disorientation. The text flows along in a logically connected manner and one can flick through it endlessly, pleasantly absorbing tit-bits without any disruption to the flow of one's thoughts; it is a seamless and absorbing rendition of the author's views. In spite of the text's vast architecture and the enormous mass of material it contains, it seems like a masterpiece of elegant composition.
The bulk of the book is given over to a detailed dissection of Hahnemann's writings to tease out their true meaning, which the author believes has frequently been misinterpreted. There is also a very interesting section about the use of nosodes and isodes in Europe towards the end of the last century and how that relates to some of the critically central problems of homeopathic practice. Finally, he makes some very profound comments about constitutions and constitutional remedies. The book focuses fundamentally upon the problems of so-called 'classical homeopathy'. These problems concern the 'single remedy constitutional similimum and wait' approach of Kentism that once the one single remedy has been identified then the path ahead is clear. As Verspoor shows, this is far from the whole truth. He strives to show how many have fallen foul of these confused Kentian ideas.
He shows how miasms and family history/patient history can be used to reformulate homeopathic treatment for the whole person. This demands a programme of treatment; more than one remedy; a more liberal view of nosodes and miasms; and our seeing the patient's history as dynamic and containing myriad 'wounds to be healed'. He goes far beyond what most contemporary homeopaths expound as the full picture, and seems to want to modernise homeopathy like Burnett, Clarke and Cooper did a hundred years ago in Britain. Breaking free from entrenched dogmas of received teachings he wishes to create a vibrant, new, liberal synthesis of homeopathic philosophy with inspiration and underpinning theoretical support from Hahnemann himself.
I recommend this book most highly. It seems set to become the most significant text since the Lectures of Kent  and the Essays of Close , and will probably outshine both, with its brilliant light. It needs to be read carefully, digested and discussed thoroughly within the movement, and may well prove to show the future direction of homeopathy.
Similia Volume 12 No. 2 December 1999
[ Back to Articles ] [ Top of page ]